A number of years ago I had to go inspect a mixed use building. Commercial on the 1st floor, apartments above. The 1st floor was a laundromat. After looking through the place I told the old lady managing the place I needed to go in the basement to check things out. She responded:
No, you no go down there, big ratones, very scary, no go down there.
Of course I'm too cool to listen to her. Ma'am I need to do my inspection and check things out.
No, no, ratones, no go.
Yeah, yeah Ok
I go down the basement stairs cautiously, Don't see or hear anything. Seems fine. I go around the corner and start looking around a bit, Nothing.
Mind you right about now is when I realize the front 1/2 of the building has a basement that I'm in. Roughly the rear half of the basement is only a crawlspace. I start walking towards the crawlspace area to check out the structure. I hear something. Huh?
I shine my flashlight over into the crawlspace and just see the glare/reflection on what seemed to be hundreds of eyes and dark shapes. I hear like rat noise. Like an idiot I step closer, as I'm standing there the noise gets louder and louder, sort of like at a football game.
Then all of a sudden the noise is super loud and these hundreds of eyes and dark shapes are charging me.
I turn and run up the stairs screaming like a little girl.
That old mexican lady was laughing so hard she was crying.
On a more serious note, rats will come into rooms at night and bite kids. Seen a lot of little kids with bite marks and rats around. On one inspection a big rat was eating garbage on the floor a couple feet away from a toddler who was playing on the floor. Neither was paying much attention to the other.
Rats live just about everywhere in the city, suburbs, and countryside. They don't pay attention to how much money people pay for their homes or apartments, or whether the neighborhood is wealthy or poor -- they do, however, pay attention to how easy it is to get food and shelter.
If there's easy access through loose-fitting doors or windows, or cracks in the foundation of a home, rats will find there way inside for the winter. Similarly, if garbage is overflows from the cans in the alley, or old fast-food papers fly through the yard, rats will congregate. Rats also eat dog and cat droppings that pet owners don't bother to clean up.
It's true that in the past year, Chicago has been inundated by an explosion in the rat population. Most experts attribute this to the very warm winter temperatures we had last year combined with a slowdown in city services. I did read an article that speculated that the increase in coyotes might eventually reduce the rat population, though! :-)
My colleagues are correct that the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) specifies that tenants can take independent action if a landlord refuses to correct an issue that endangers the occupants of a rental property. A rat infestation, in my opinion, certainly would qualify under this standard.
Under the RLTO, the landlord has no right to evict a tenant due to the tenant's attempts to have a maintenance issue addressed. Similarly, the tenant has no right to withhold rent, except under specific circumstances. Here's a link to the Ordinance summary:
Take a look at the "Tenant Remedies" section to see what your rights are in the situation you described.
Here's a link to the city web page on rats, including a city services request button:
Here's another link to a city web page explaining how the city handles rat infestations when the owner does not do so:
The City of Chicago will bait for rats upon citizen request. This includes baiting under private garage foundations, which oftentimes serve as shelter for rat burrows. Landlords must address infestations that occur inside private residential buildings. The city will bait abandoned buildings, however.
I hope you don't have an issue with rodents in your new place. If you do, and the landlord seems unresponsive, call 3-1-1 to ask for assistance. Also, make sure the building and grounds are free of food, animal droppings, and other waste that rats need to survive.
Don Pasek, CIPS, TRC, ADPR
Omniterra Real Properties
If you were a month to month tenant and had no written lease, the landlord can ask you to leave at any time, you have a "tenancy at will".
The City RLTO (landlord tenant ordinance) only applies when there is a written lease.
If you, or another tenant in the building created an environment conducive to rats (clutter, open food containers, etc) there is little a landlord can do to eradicate the rats and remedy the problem unless the mess and the food are removed.
while I agree with Ivan, many times when apartments are being shown for rent and you see no signs of rodents.
If you have a lease with a landlord and you are honoring the terms of the lease the landlord cannot give you 30 days notice because you have reported him/her for a rat problem. The only way a landlord can give you a 30 day notice is if you are on a month to month lease.
Please see the Chicago Tenant Ordinance I have attached outlining your rights as a tenant. Whenever you have any kind of infestation or building code violation your landlord refuses to remedy you should immediately call 311. If your landlord retaliates against you by giving you notice, you should again report the landlord to the city at 311.
You pay your monthly rent to have a place that is maintained and rodent free. If you are meeting your obligation your landlord needs to meet his/her obligation. Here is a link to an organization that maybe able to help you as well http://www.tenant.org/ .
Best of Luck
The best thing is to inspect the apartment before you move in for any signs of rodents. Also, if you call then "ground squirrels", then it doesn't sound as bad.